Job Description:

Surgeons perform medical operations on patients.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

You’ll specialise in one of 10 surgical areas, like:

  • ear, nose and throat (ENT)
  • rauma and orthopaedic surgery
  • paediatric surgery
  • plastic surgery
  • trauma

You’ll see patients admitted to hospital through the accident and emergency department, or referred by other hospital doctors and GPs.

You’ll spend time:

  • meeting the patient before the operation to decide on the best course of action
  • explaining the procedures and risk
  • taking tests and arranging X-rays
  • carrying out operations with a team of people
  • carrying out ward rounds
  • writing to GPs about your patients’ conditions and treatments

You’ll be responsible for training and supervising junior doctors and other healthcare professionals in the hospital. You might also carry out research and write papers for publication.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine
  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • excellent communication skills and the ability to explain choices to patients
  • the ability to work under pressure and make quick, accurate decisions
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to work well with others /teamwork
  • excellent hand-eye co-ordination and practical skills
  • the ability to put people at their ease and inspire trust and confidence
  • leadership and management skills
  • the ability to always work to high professional standards
  • critical thinking: developing strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills can be beneficial. These skills are valuable when diagnosing medical conditions and making complex decisions in surgery.
  • research and study skills: effective study habits and the ability to conduct research are important for success in medical school and throughout your surgical career.
  • empathy and communication: developing empathy and strong interpersonal communication skills is essential for building rapport with patients and providing compassionate care.
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming a surgeon is a highly specialized and demanding career that requires a significant amount of education and training beyond the GCSE level. While there are no specific GCSE subjects that are mandatory for becoming a surgeon, certain subjects can provide a strong foundation for your future studies and career aspirations in medicine and surgery. Here are some GCSE subjects and skills that can be advantageous:

  1. Sciences: Strong performance in science subjects is crucial for a future in medicine and surgery. Consider taking GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. These subjects provide the foundational knowledge needed to understand human anatomy, physiology, and the principles of surgery.
  2. Mathematics: A solid foundation in mathematics is important for various aspects of medicine, including drug calculations, data analysis, and understanding research studies.
  3. English: Good communication skills are essential for medical professionals, including surgeons. GCSE English can help you develop strong written and verbal communication skills.
  4. Physical Education (PE): Surgeons need to maintain physical stamina and dexterity, as surgery can be physically demanding. Physical fitness is important for your overall well-being and readiness for the demands of the profession.

Post School

To become a surgeon you’ll need to complete:

  • a 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the medical council of the country you intend to work in (in the UK that’s the General Medical Council (GMC) )
  • a 2-year foundation programme of general training
  • 2 years core surgical training in a hospital
  • up to 6 years of speciality training

If you don’t have qualifications in science, you may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine. This includes a one-year pre-medical or foundation year.

If you already have a degree in a science subject (minimum 2:1) you could take a 4-year graduate entry programme into medicine.

In the UK, Australian and New Zealand, when you apply for a course in medicine, you may be asked to take the University Clinical Admissions Test (UCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). This is used to check your suitability for a career in medicine by testing your mental abilities and behavioural characteristics, rather than your academic achievements.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll work long hours including nights and weekends. You’ll also be part of an out-of-hours rota system. You’ll spend time in a variety of settings such as consulting rooms, wards, operating theatres and special units like accident and emergency.

Career Path & Progression:

You’ll work long hours including nights and weekends. You’ll also be part of an out-of-hours rota system.

You’ll spend time in a variety of settings such as consulting rooms, wards, operating theatres and special units like accident and emergency.